I didn’t particularly want to write this post. I didn’t want to taint my blog by talking about the thing that everyone else is talking about. However, as this fucking wanker of a virus is slowly destroying my mental health, I think I need to speak.
Of course I’m going to be talking about coronavirus in this post. If you are triggered by this, please proceed with caution. Rest assured, I am not going to be throwing stats and false information at you (or even true information for that matter). I’m just going to be talking about how I’ve been feeling these last couple of weeks, because I feel this will not only be beneficial to my mental health to get everything out, but I hope it will show anyone else suffering with contamination OCD/health anxiety that they are not alone.
The Hand Sanitiser Shortage
I’ve been trying my hardest these last few weeks. Trying my hardest to stay calm and to stay positive. After all, I wash my hands A LOT. I stay away from sick people, I don’t touch my face, and I use hand sanitiser at every opportunity. However, last week, when I went on Amazon to stock up on my 6 pack of hand sanitiser as I usually do, seeing that it was out of stock triggered me. I was triggered further when I saw that literally everywhere else had run out. I instantly was filled with anger. “You selfish bastards. How can you be so selfish? There’s people with chronic illnesses and people like me that rely on hand sanitiser for their day to day lives.”
Liam managed to get me some hospital grade hand sanitiser for my desk at work, while my lovely friend Beth brought me two bottles of the stuff to see me through on the handbag front. I thought I was doing okay. And then this week happened. To be honest, things have been building up for the last few weeks, thanks to the persistent media coverage and the bullshit people are sharing on social media.
I’ve been trying to carry on as normal, but this past week, things have been getting increasingly more difficult. At work my boss likes to have the radio on, which gives us hourly updates. As a blogger, I don’t want to not use social media, but every time I check it, something pops up and I end up falling down a rabbit hole. The next thing I know I’m crying my eyes out wishing I was dead so I don’t have to deal with this fucking virus anymore.
Signs have now been put up in our building at work, along with bottles of Dettol and sponges (let’s politely gloss over the fact the sponges are fucking BROWN). I’m using two bottles of hand sanitiser when I want to eat or use my phone – I have an alcohol based one to kill the C-word itself, and an antiviral based one for my usual fears around stomach viruses. But even then, I don’t feel clean. I’m washing my hands of course, but I don’t trust door handles – I never really have, but even more so when the lads in the office upstairs are in and out of the loo so quickly it’s obvious they’re not washing their hands – so hand sanitiser is always my go-to afterwards. I’m at the point where I feel like everything I touch is contaminated.
I feel as though this virus is very slowly unravelling the hard work I’ve done in my recovery in the last few years. A few days ago I noticed myself Dettol wiping my phone – even though I’d only touched it after using (both forms of) my hand sanitiser (and I’d washed my hands before). I’m washing my hands my usual three times, but I’m still finding myself doing a bonus wash – I’ve been singing the first verse of Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance in my head as singing Happy Birthday to myself alone in a toilet is just a little too depressing. It’s at the point where I now feel like my hands aren’t clean unless I’ve done it for the 20 seconds. Cue the bloody cracked stumps I have for fingers and the peeling skin on my hands.
Panic Buying and the Stupidity of the Public
The panic buying is majorly worrying me too. As much as I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, I still went out one lunchtime and bought five bottles of soap across three different shops. However, before anyone @’s me, if I can’t wash my hands, it’s severely damaging for my mental health. I don’t get the toilet roll thing though – coronavirus doesn’t give you the shits. The scary thing is that with all the panic buying, it makes me think that I also need to panic buy. Seeing empty toilet roll shelves in supermarkets along with empty soap displays makes me so angry. Yes, I’ve stock piled soap, but other than that I’ve bought the bare minimum, no different to my usual weekly shop. I worry that basic food and supplies will run out because of all these selfish fuckwits stockpiling.
I’m also worrying about the stupidity and selfishness of other people. It still seems as though a number of people are taking the approach of “it’s just a cold – I don’t have coronavirus so I’m still going to go to work etc.” One particular example is from Friday night.
Ever Cried at a Comedy Gig?
Liam and I went to see Ed Byrne in Swindon. I didn’t want to go for obvious reasons, however it was Liam’s birthday present and the venue still agreed that the show was going ahead. I had a little cry beforehand, but he eventually talked me into going. Things weren’t too bad, except the fact I heard a fair few coughs, more so from the woman who sat a few rows in front of us.
This woman was coughing a fair bit – and fair enough, everyone has a cough right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the big C – however, she was coughing A LOT. However, the interval kicked off and I saw quite a few eye openers from this woman. First of all, she took a packet of Lemsip out of her bag. As she turned to face her friend it was visible that she was clearly full of something. She kept coughing and at one point said to her friends “I’ve brought my tissues so I don’t infect everyone!”
Now, I have a few thoughts. Great that you’ve brought tissues. It’s great that you’re coughing in them and covering your mouth. Gold star for you. However, you have gone into a theatre full of hundreds of people when you are clearly ill AF during a bloody pandemic. It’s clearly been advertised everywhere that you’re to stay at home if you’re suffering flu like symptoms. I’ll be honest with you guys, the thoughts going through my head were not very nice, and I completely accept that they were extreme and they were not rational at all. However, I feel that given this particular climate, the fact she came out to an event like this was selfish. I don’t care what the reasoning behind it was, but at the moment, we need to be mindful of our whole community. It doesn’t matter that you’ve spent £25 on a comedy ticket, you’re potentially infecting everyone in this room.
I was not okay during this interval. In fact I spent the whole thing crying my eyes out with a scarf wrapped around my face. Let’s be honest, I was now the one who looked like they were unwell, but I couldn’t help it. Liam kept telling me it was okay, but every time this woman coughed I felt as though I was going to die. I was angry that she had come to this venue given everything that was going on, and I was angry that the staff had willingly let her in despite the fact she was clearly unwell, especially given they’d put multiple notices on their website about staying home if you were ill. I’ll be honest with you, I wanted to die. That’s not an exaggeration – if it meant that my anxiety would calm down and these thoughts would go away, right now I would willingly die. I managed to make it through the second half, but with every cough I wanted to punch that woman right in her stupid face (obviously I would have washed my hands thoroughly afterwards). How selfish can you be?! I instantly jumped in the shower when I got home.
An Improvement? No.
On Saturday, I started to feel better. I hadn’t paid much attention to social media, I’d completely avoided the news. I went to get my hair done, and I started to feel normal for a change. I popped in to see my grandparents, which again made me feel loads better. Putting the world to rights with a few cups of tea was just what I needed. I was starting to think that maybe I could deal with this.
However, later that evening Liam received a message from work – someone on his floor was currently undergoing testing for coronavirus. As a result, the whole building was being closed down with immediate effect. Subsequently, the absolute fucking asshole that is OCD did this:
“You went to your grandparents’ house after potentially being exposed.”
“You’ve passed the virus onto your grandparents.”
“If they get it, it’s your fault.”
“What if they get it and die? Your Mum will never forgive you.”
“You definitely shouldn’t have gone to see them.”
“You’re a selfish bitch and you’re no better than anyone else going out when they’re ill.”
Of course, things are getting out of hand here, but I can’t shake the feeling that part of it is true. I will never forgive myself if I’ve passed it on. I’m trying to stay rational – after all, it hasn’t been confirmed (yet), the person works in a whole other suite to Liam, his office has toilets that are just for his company’s suite, and they’ve had people going in every day to disinfect the door handles. Liam isn’t worried, and he’s promised me that he’s been careful. So it’s just a waiting game. I emailed my boss to ask if he’d prefer me to keep away, but he said it’s fine, unless of course either Liam or I start to feel ill. At least I’ve done one thing right.
At the moment, I feel as though I won’t be okay until all this is over. But it doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. I don’t remember this hype with Ebola and swine flu when they hit, but I get the feeling that where we’re all much more reliant on social media these days, things have been blown way out of proportion. I don’t know what would be better for me personally. I’m majorly struggling at work for the reasons I’ve mentioned, but I feel like if they make us work from home the whole thing will feel even more scary. On the other hand, my house is currently the only place I feel safe right now, so staying here for a few days might make things better.
A Few Messages…
To the British Public
Stop fucking panic buying. Buy what you need and when you need it. There are people who can’t afford to stock up for weeks at a time, and there are people that desperately need the essentials more than you do. You don’t need 500 toilet rolls and 50 boxes of paracetamol. Stop it.
Wash your bloody hands. The amount of you acting like this is brand new information is shocking. We should not live in a society where we have to remind people to wash their hands – it’s common sense.
Stay at home if you’re sick. Don’t go to work. Don’t go to the doctors. Order your shopping online. And don’t go to fucking comedy gigs. Don’t take that assumption that you’ve just got a cold. It probably is, but it’s that sort of mindset that’s probably got us in the situation we’re in. We’re at the point now where staying home is not for you, it’s for everyone else. It’s for the people who are more vulnerable and could potentially be in trouble if they catch this virus. The government has put measures in place for statutory sick pay – admittedly, they’re shit, but they’re better than nothing.
To the Media
Look at where you’re getting your information from, and look at how you report it. The whole reason people are stockpiling is because you’re scaring them shitless. Stop reporting every single death from this virus, and stop reporting every time the number of cases changes. Yes, we need to be informed, but there’s a difference between informing people and scaring the hell out of them. Even better, shut the fuck up.
To Anyone Else Who is Struggling with Their Mental Health
My heart goes out to you. Trust me, you are not alone. Avoid the news if you find it triggering, maybe even turn off social media for a bit. Tell people how you’re feeling if you feel you can. Watch cat videos. Cuddle your pets. Do what you need to do to take your mind off things. Even though I don’t quite believe it myself right now, we will be okay.
Stay safe everyone. Oh and wash your hands x